Jaffrey / Peterborough
State aid for wastewater projects up for vote
Sen. Andy Sanborn (R-Bedford), right, met with the Jaffrey Select Board on Monday to discuss the N.H. Senate Finance Committee’s efforts to restore funding for deferred and delayed grants for wastewater projects. (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
JAFFREY — The town could see approximately $200,000 from a deferred wastewater state aid grant in fiscal year 2014, if a budget proposal approved Tuesday by the state’s Senate Finance Committee is backed by the House and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan in the months ahead.
The Senate Finance Committee voted to approve $4.5 million in fiscal year 2014 of the state’s two-year 2014-15 budget for the more than 120 delayed and deferred drinking water, wastewater and landfill projects in New Hampshire. The committee’s $10.7 billion budget recommendation includes nearly $9 million for deferred projects — including those in Jaffrey and Peterborough — for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, according to Sen. Andy Sanborn (R-Bedford).
Voters at Peterborough’s 2006 Town Meeting approved spending $10.32 million for construction of a new wastewater treatment plant, and in 2008 they approved an additional $3 million. The town is eligible for a $4 million state aid grant, but since 2008 has not seen any contributions from the state for this project.
If the $6 million state aid grant promised to Jaffrey was in place, town officials say the annual sewer rate increase of 5 percent would be one-third less. According to Select Board Chair Don MacIsaac, Jaffrey ranks among the top five municipalities in the state when it comes to sewer user rates.
Sanborn, who represents District 9, stopped by Jaffrey’s Select Board meeting Tuesday night to deliver the good news, but he said there are a number of hurdles the state must overcome before affected towns see the state aid grant money owed to them.
Hassan initially proposed allocating about $3 million for wastewater projects in fiscal year 2015, while the House upped that amount by about $1.9 million to fully fund all water infrastructure projects in that year, according to an email written by Timothy Fortier of the N.H. Municipal Association and distributed to affected towns Wednesday.
Sanborn said Monday the full Senate must vote on the Finance Committee’s proposed budget and then return its version to the House next month.
By law, a budget has to be in place by July 1. But before that happens, Sanborn said, differences of opinion between political parties could prolong a budget approval.
“At the end of the day, the budget we are operating under today was approved at $10.3 [billion],” Sanborn said, noting the state is expected to spend about $10.1 billion by June 30 under the budget approved for fiscal years 2012-2013.
If funding for state aid wastewater grants is fully restored in fiscal years 2014 and 2015, Sanborn said he’s not sure when and how the money would be distributed to the towns. Jaffrey operates on a calender year budget cycle, not a fiscal year like the state. Since 2008, the state has deferred all appropriations to the state aid grant program. To see that funding restored would be “a great win for your community,” Sanborn said.
At the meeting, resident Angela Beecham said water and sewer bills for Jaffrey’s homeowners and renters are too high. Paying $120 a month for utilities isn’t feasible for many folks, she said.
Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.